Statement by Kemal Derviş on the occasion of World Aids Day

01 Dec 2005

This year's World AIDS Day follows on the heels of the 2005 World Summit where international leaders reaffirmed their commitment to intensify global and national HIV/AIDS responses.

The fundamental challenge now is to ensure we all adhere to that commitment, and take the necessary actions to deliver results. We must, as the World AIDS Campaign 2005 advocates, "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise."

The World Summit recognized that without stronger leadership and international and local partnerships aimed at scaling up and coordinating our response to the epidemic, realizing universal access to treatment by 2010, and eliminating stigma, discrimination, and gender inequalities, the promises made this year will be broken.

The need for a harmonised response is all the more poignant in light of new UNAIDS figures, which show rising HIV infections rates across all regions of the world.

Around the globe, 40.3 million people are now living with HIV, and nearly five million of those were infected in 2005. Eastern Europe and Central Asia show the steepest increase with a 25 percent rise in new infections to 1.6 million people living with the virus. Widespread gender inequalities including political, economic, social and cultural factors exacerbate the vulnerability of women and girls to infection. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where sixty-four percent of all new infections occurred in 2005, young women between 15 and 24 years are now at least three times more likely to be HIV-positive than young men. In many countries marriage and women's own fidelity are not enough to protect them. In Colombia, for example, 72 percent of the women who tested HIV positive at an anti-natal site reported being in stable relationships.

Despite these figures there is hope. A decade ago, less than $300 million was available to developing countries to address the epidemic. This year the total surpassed $8 billion.

To ensure that this money is used effectively, and to improve the overall architecture of our response to HIV/AIDS, a Global Task Team was formed last spring. It recommended a clearer division of labour among UNAIDS cosponsors, and as a result, UNDP will now play a strategic leading role in addressing the interrelationship between HIV/AIDS and development, governance, human rights and gender.

With these priorities in mind, UNDP is intensifying its efforts against the epidemic on several levels with a broad range of partners. For example, in partnership with UNIFEM, and in support of the work of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, UNDP launched an initiative in Ethiopia to promote and protect property and inheritance rights of women affected by AIDS.

Working in sub-Saharan Africa with the Africa Union, the Third World Network and the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNDP brought together officials from 35 countries for a capacity-building workshop on developing and adopting Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), to ensure the region has sustained access to low-cost HIV/AIDS medicines.

In countries including Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia, UNDP works with the World Bank and UNAIDS to strengthen national planning efforts on the epidemic and to ensure national Poverty Reduction Strategies mainstream HIV/AIDS priorities.

The challenge of working in partnership against HIV/AIDS means we must reach out to all those involved in the response, including those working at the grassroots' who bear the brunt of the epidemic.

In recognition of this need, UNDP is today supporting the launch of the first ever Red Ribbon Award: Celebrating Community Leadership and Action on AIDS, which will be presented at AIDS 2006, the sixteenth International AIDS Conference, scheduled to take place in Canada in August 2006.

In communities across the world, leadership, courage and resilience are shaping the response to the epidemic. Honouring the work and providing resources to scale up community initiatives is essential to curtail the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS.

If we are to keep the promises we have made - if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015 - then individuals, communities and institutions must support each other. This year on World AIDS Day let us Keep the Promise, and working together let us Stop AIDS.